An international study has found that maintenance therapy with the drug infliximab, a monoclonal antibody used to treat Crohns disease, can prevent or delay the recurrence of fistulas, a common complication of that inflammatory bowel disorder. As reported in the February 26 New England Journal of Medicine, patients receiving infliximab on a regular basis were twice as likely to avoid fistula recurrence than were patients receiving a placebo.
The study was largely supported by the pharmaceutical firm Centocor, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, which markets infliximab under the brand name Remicade.
Crohns disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the digestive tract that affects about half a million people in the U.S. Patients with more severe symptoms may develop fistulas – openings from affected areas of the intestine into other organs or onto the skin, often around the anus. The presence of fistulas can seriously impact patients quality of life and increases the likelihood of surgical treatment, which may not have satisfactory results. Infliximab, which targets the inflammatory protein tumor necrosis factor, has been shown in previous research to reduce symptoms in patients without this complication and to heal fistulas over a limited period of time.
Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
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